Modeling Writing and Learning Not to Make Assumptions

sols_6Today was one of those days when I got to sit down and write with my students.   These days are few and far between.   I want to but that means students must be settled and engaged in their writing – all of them.  Today was one of those days.

So as I sat writing and thinking about the importance of modeling for our students what we want them to do.  I was pleased that I was able to finally sit down and show them I write.

When writing I really wondered how many of my students or any students for that matter really see their parents or teachers sitting down to write for an extended period of time.   In this technology rich age they see quick e-mails,  sticky notes,  Facebook notes, and Twitter notes.  I even thought back to when my children were young – what did we as parents model for our children.  They knew we both wrote and still write.   They saw their father write often since he is a freelance writer and works at home but for me they only heard about it.

I am a writer who needs to be along to gather my thoughts and write.   It is very difficult for me to write in the presence of others.   So I would (and still do) write later in the evening when others have gone to bed or off to do other solitary tasks.   I would find a place to be alone with my thinking.    So I was not modeling writing for my own children – they only heard about my writing or saw bits of it once in awhile.

I asked my students after we finished writing our SOL today – how many of you see your Mom or Dad or Grandmother write often and for a full page or two.   I expected no hands to go up but about nine hands popped up right away.   I was pleasantly surprised and asked what their families were writing.   Again I was amazed but they said “my Mom always write letters to my Grandma.”  “Yeah, my Mom writes to my Uncle almost every weekend.”

I realized so many of my families do not have computers at home, are not sending quick e-mails.  They are living on tight budgets with family members all over the United States.   So many of them are still writing family letters and cards, writing in languages other than English to share the news what is happening here in Minnesota.

It was a great reminder and lesson for me today

  •  to think about when do I model by writing in the classroom and at home 
  • I need to not assume that others are not writing at home – high poverty and crazy home lives does not mean they are not writing or staying connected through words.
  • in fact my families might be writing more that those families where technology is king and rules that home.

Do you model writing at school and at home?


Do you share your writing with your classroom?    

Why or Why not?

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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3 Responses to Modeling Writing and Learning Not to Make Assumptions

  1. Your post brings out an important point. We talk so much about letting kids see parents reading in the home. It’s harder for parents to truly drop everything to write.

    Thanks for this really important post Joanne.

  2. I lost some of my comment. Ack.

    Here goes again (sandwiched between my paragraphs). I think we have to think about what counts as writing. Many folks are doing it, but it’s not sitting down to write the great American novel. While it’d be great for all parents to serve as writing mentors for their kids, perhaps they are. We just have to ask how (they’re doing this).

  3. Wilcox Carol says:

    You bring up so many important ideas in this post. I am a huge believer in the importance of writing in front of kids. I want them to see the messiness of trying to shape and mold unformed thoughts and get them onto the page in some kind of coherent form. Don Graves used to always say that writing in front of kids was the most important thing we could do to teach our kids to write. I was also fascinated by your thinking about the kinds of writing kids see their parents do. I wonder how my sons would answer your questions. I write all the time, but mostly on computer. My boys see me typing, but rarely see finished products. I was also pleasantly surprised by how many of your students DO see parents or other adults writing. My teaching situation, is, I think, very similar and I wonder how my students would answer the question. I will be asking tomorrow. Thanks for sharing all this rich thinking!

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